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Zorya Utrennyaya went out. Czernobog stared at her as she left. "That's a good woman," he said. "Not like her sisters. One of them is a harpy, the other, all she does is sleep."

Czernobog to Shadow, Chapter Four

Zorya Utrennyaya is one of the Old Gods, and comes from Slavic mythology. She represents the Morning Star, Venus, and has two sisters, Zorya Polunochnaya (Midnight Star) and Zorya Vechernyaya (Evening Star). Together their are the Zorya.

Significance in the story[]

"The Secret of Spoons"[]

Shadow and Wednesday arrive at an apartment in Chicago. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Wednesday that Czernobog, who is currently in a field killing a cow with a bolt pistol, will not be happy to see them. She brings them into the apartment and Wednesday presents her with the vodka, romance novels, and binoculars that Shadow picked up from the store. Zorya Vechernyaya downs the entire bottle of vodka before calling for Zorya Utrennyaya to come to the kitchen. She explains that their other sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, is asleep. Wednesday passes Zorya Utrennyaya the books and sets the binoculars down in front of Zorya Polunochnaya's door.

Zorya Utrennyaya makes coffee for Wednesday and Shadow and Zorya Vechernyaya offers to read Shadow's fortune. Shadow heads for the bathroom just as Czernobog returns home. He is not pleased to see Wednesday and throws a lamp at him. Wednesday offers him the cigarettes and herb Havarti but Czernobog still wants him to leave. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Czernobog she already invited them to dinner.

Shadow offers to help with the cooking but Zorya Vechernyaya refuses. She tells him they are all relatives who came over together a long time ago and that family is people you stick with even when you don't like them. Shadow gives Zorya Utrennyaya his empty coffee cup and Zorya Utrennyaya turns it upside down to read the coffee grinds. She whispers with Zorya Vechernyaya who lies to Shadow that he will have a happy life with many children. Shadow asks if there is any good news and she replies that his mother died of cancer but he won't.

From the living room, Czernobog becomes upset with Wednesday and raising his voice. Zorya Utrennyaya hurries in to shush him so he doesn't wake up Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday is trying to get Czernobog to come to the meeting because everyone else will be there and will think Czernobog is weak if he doesn't show. Czernobog tells Wednesday he wants his brother, Bielebog, not him.

They sit down to a terrible dinner of tough meat and soft potatoes, which Wednesday enthusiastically enjoys. Czernobog asks Shadow if he is Black. Where he is from, everyone is the same color so everyone fights over shades. Bielebog has light hair where Czernobog has black hair so everyone thought Bielebog was the good one and it turned Czernobog into the bad one. They are both gray now so there is no longer a way to tell who is light and who is dark.

Czernobog shares how they first arrived in New York and it wasn't so bad but then they came to Chicago and it's not so great. He had to get a job in the slaughterhouse and became a "knocker" on the killing floor. Zorya Vechernyaya opposes him telling cow killing stories at dinner but he continues anyway. He explains how it takes strength and skill to artfully kill a cow properly with a sledgehammer. If not done properly, the cow becomes angry and angry meat tastes bad. He complains about the ease of the bolt gun that makes it so anyone can kill cows now. He asks Shadow if he plays checkers and invites him to a checkers game after dinner and Shadow agrees.

Chapter Four[]

Shadow and Wednesday arrive in Chicago at the brownstone where the Zorya sisters and Czernobog live. Zorya Utrennyaya sends them into the sitting room while she gets them coffee. Czernobog begins relating his past job in the meat business and how he was a "knocker" on the kill floor, taking a sledgehammer to knock the cows dead before slitting their throats and draining their blood. Zorya Utrennyaya returns with their coffee and Shadow and Czernobog begin to play checkers. Zorya Utrennyaya and Zorya Vechernyaya serve up dinner and then tell Mr. Wednesday and Shadow they can stay in their home. Mr. Wednesday pays Zorya Vechernyaya $45 for them to spend the night.

Chapter Five[]

The next morning, Shadow and Mr. Wednesday leave Czernobog's brownstone, saying goodbye to Zorya Utrennyaya. Shadow starts to do coin tricks with the coin Zorya Polunochnaya gave to him and drops it. Wednesday picks it up and gives it back to him, telling him to not be so "careless with people's gifts."

Chapter Twenty[]

Shadow arrives in Chicago and is greeted at the brownstone by Zorya Utrennyaya who promptly tries to get him to leave again, telling him that he doesn't want to see Czernobog. They're in the middle of spring cleaning and Shadow helps Zorya Vechernyaya turn a mattress in Bielebog's room. They keep trying to get him to leave but he sits and waits for Czernobog to come back.

Physical appearance[]

Zorya Utrennyaya is described as smaller and more frail than Zorya Vechernyaya. Her hair is long and golden.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Cultural Background[]

The Zorya, also called Zoria or Zaria (The Auroras) are Slavic mythological beings.

They were originally described as two beautiful virgins, the servants and daughters of Dažbog or Dajbog, the god of the Sun, tasked with opening and closing the gate of their father's celestial palace, allowing him to travel through the sky. Zorya Utrennyaya, also called Zoria Outrenniaia, was the embodiment of Dawn, whose charge was to open the gates of the palace before her father's chariot so he could go out in the world. [1]

A later myth describes the Zorya as rather three "little sisters", the Evening, Midnight and Morning Auroras, tasked with guarding Simargl, a winged lion or dog, trapped in the Ursa Minor (Little Bear) constellation by an iron chain attached to the star Polaris. This task was of cosmic importance, for if Simargl ended up freeing himself, it would cause the end of the world.

The Zorya were later confused with the Zvezda, two sisters, also servants of Dajbog, who embodied the morning and evening stars. Like the Zoria, they were tasked with opening and closing the gates of the celestial palace for the Sun, but they also attended to Dajbog's white horses. Zorya Utrennyaya was associated with Zvezda Dennitza, the Morning Star (the planet Venus), who shared with Zorya Utrennyaya the task of gate-opener. Zvezda Dennitza was also often considered the wife of Messiatz, the god of the Moon, a role often given to the Sun deity herself, and invoked in some Russian exorcisms as an equal to the supreme being, God Himself. [2]

An account tells of Zorya Utrennyaya as the wife of Perun, the highest god of the Slavic pantheon, master of the sky and meteorological phenomena, god of war and fertility. She followed him in battle, and protected the warriors she favored by using her veil to shield them from death.

In Neil Gaiman’s interpretation of the Zorya sisters as a manifestation of the neopagan Triple Goddess archetype, Zorya Utrennyaya represents the Mother, being a middle-aged woman embodying the “morning” of existence, the middle of life.

Notes and trivia[]

  • The Zorya sisters are based on two guardian goddesses of Slavic mythology. The two goddesses represent the Auroras, watching over the doomsday hound, Simargl.
    • Zorja Utrennjaja is the Morning Star and associated with Venus.
    • Zorja Vechernjaja is the Evening Star and associated with Mercury.
    • A third sister is described in some versions of the myth, however, Zorya Polunochnaya was created specifically by Neil Gaiman for the novel.
  • Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab created a perfume oil based on Zorya Utrennyaya for their line "American Gods I", described as: Sweet black coffee and a touch of ambrette seed.


  2. New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, by Félix Guirand